May 2011

Weekly links

Posted on May 27, 2011 at 10:57 am in

Some articles I have found interesting this week.

Pesticides are damaging babies in utero, affecting their IQ for life.

Could your ground beef be destroying the planet? (Grassfed is way better for your health anyway!)

Interesting correlation between fast food consumption and obesity, but remember: correlation does not equate to causality.

With the recent tornadoes that devastated central Alabama, this guide is very timely.

As someone who instinctively dislikes fad diets of any type, this article is fascinating, but also shaped by the preconceptions of the host site. The article referred to in there is available here and is also worth reading. Please, engage your intelligence and education before jumping on the latest bandwagon diet!

A natural follow on is this article from a Swedish MD. Low fat diets are ruinous to health, and yet medical professionals still follow the same, wrong, guidelines.

The USDA revises safe cooking temperatures for all red meat roasts/joints to 145f/63c plus a 3 minute rest. Temperatures for poultry and ground meat remain the same.

I can’t think of something witty to say about this graphic. It’s appalling.

The Republicans in Congress want to cut funding to WIC. Insanity.

Dutch Jewish groups are facing off against animal activists. Here’s the point: humans are OMNIVORES. Deal with it.

Would you eat meat grown in a lab instead of in an animal? I would at least try it.

What makes bad food so good?

I think Meatless Mondays are a fundamentally silly concept, but not for the reason you may imagine. I think if a change is worth making, make the change: just do it and incorporate that change into your daily life. I am not saying “don’t do it”: just don’t let yourself get bogged down in it. Eat meatless for a week, then eat lots of steak the next 😉

Speaking of meatless: sausage recipes!

Can Mexican beer be something other than “served with lime”? These guys think so.

If this article doesn’t make you feel horrible, I don’t know what will. Hungry children in a western country – what we arrogantly call the “first world” – is an abomination, a national disgrace.

And a nasty juxtaposition with the above is the fact that Americans waste 40% of all the food they buy. Appalling.

Dairy is not, after all, a risk factor in heart attacks. Can we please, finally, lay to rest the myth that dietary fat = ZOMG HEARTATTACK?

No, really – go ahead and eat cheese!

Grilled corn? Yes please!

Granddaughter of the girl scout cookie inventor on why her grandmother would be ashamed today


Complete protein

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm in

What is complete protein?
It is a protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids.

What do you mean by 9 “essential” amino acids?
They are 9 amino acids that your body cannot produce. They have to come from an external source.

So what if I eat incomplete protein?
You’ll get nervous, dizzy, and suffer from exhaustion. Protein deficiency is fairly rare in humans as our omnivorous diets supply complete protein from meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and a few others.

So, who could suffer from a deficiency in complete protein?
People who are on restricted diets. The restriction could be due to ill health, religious practices, or voluntary restrictions in the form of vegetarianism or veganism. This kind of deficiency is very rare, though, and is easily remedied by eating complete protein for a couple of meals a week.

So how can I get the complete protein – the 9 essential amino acids – if I am eating a restricted diet?
By combining multiple sources of incomplete protein :). Hummus is one example – chickpeas are not complete protein. Sesame seeds (tahini) are not complete protein. But the areas they are lacking overlap – the chickpeas lack the amino acids the sesame seeds contain, and vice versa. Whether you eat hummus with bread or slices veggies, it’s good for you as well as mighty tasty.

Further reading:
Bodyforlife2 (very nice graph)
Livestrong (some examples of sources of complete protein)



Posted on May 23, 2011 at 8:48 am in

Here’s some articles I have enjoyed reading during the week.

The first suggestion in this article uses my favourite bean, the black bean.

Do video games make you eat more?

Is eating healthier more expensive? Not necessarily, according to Sparkpeople, but look at the comments and how defeatist so many people are. If YOU want to be healthier, you start with YOU, not someone else…

How to avoid canning burnout, a real issue for home canners.

No, you don’t need all those expensive trinkets advertised on infomercials. Go minimalist instead.

Girl Scout cookies are killing orang-utans which makes Terry Pratchett a Sad Panda.


What to do with canned beans?

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 9:04 am in

So, you’ve been following along with me while I have canned a whole load of different beans. Great! Now you have about 16 pint jars of beans! What do you do with them now?!?

Well, apart from the amazingly awesome vegan bean burgers, how about hummus! No, this isn’t your tired old blah store bought hummus. This is a culinary superhero, packed with vitamins, protein, fibre, and most importantly – FLAVOUR. If you eat hummus with a grain it also forms complete protein – so make your favourite bread and scoop it.

2 pint jars of home canned chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water then process for another 20 seconds. Add the tahini, buzz it hard, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.

If you don’t have tahini you can use peanut butter instead – you may lose out on one of the essential amino acids, but it’ll still taste great and be really good for you.
If you have gluten problems, you can use corn tortillas or other substitutes for bread. I prefer to use raw carrots or other veggies instead of bread.

If you don’t have, or don’t like chickpeas, you can use any other legume – our local has an amazing black eyed pea hummus.
Add in a 1/2 inch / 1.25cm length of raw horseradish to make it fiery. You could also add a chili pepper or some raw ginger.

A one pound packet of dried chickpeas produces 4 pint jars. Add in the costs of production, let’s call it 29cents per jar.
Tahini at my local store was $3.99 a jar. Using 1/3 cup per batch, that’s 73cents per batch.
I always have big bottles of lemon juice to hand – while it’s worth it to use freshly squeezed if you can, that’s not always practical, so I’ll use the cost of the bottled stuff. Call it 2cents. The rest of the ingredients add another couple of cents to the cost, so let’s call the lemon juice and seasonings 5cents.
So, two pints of home made hummus for about $1.07. One pint gets eaten, the other gets frozen for later consumption. I call that a win.

Original recipe courtesy Alton Brown. He’s an amazing guy.


Easy canning dried beans

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 10:24 am in

Canning dry beans can seem like a real pain. The rinsing, sorting, soaking overnight, changing the water rigmarole. There’s the “quick cook” method – boil for 2 minutes, soak in the hot boil water for 1 hour, drain, fresh water, bring back to a boil – pfft, what a pain!

So here’s the super easy way to do it!

Put your pint jars into your pressure canner with hot tap water to the appropriate fill line. Start heating the water with the jars in it. Put your electric kettle on to boil. If you don’t have an electric kettle – why not?!? – boil the water in a pan instead.

Rinse and sort the beans. Put 1/2 to 2/3 cup of rinsed sorted beans in each pint jar, producing an approximate yield of 4 to 5 pint jars from each pound weight of dry beans. Pour in boiling water to 1/2 inch of the top (just about where the screw threads start).

Cap your jars and process at the appropriate pressure for your altitude for 90 minutes. Follow the usual steps for pressure reduction and cooling as specified in your pressure canner user manual.

There you go! Between four and 10 pint jars of pressure canned/cooked beans in about 100 minutes, more or less, ready and waiting for you to deploy them in all sorts of interesting manners.

The beans I canned this way were chickpeas(garbanzo) and pinto beans… you’ll see why later this week.


Seasonal eating – May

Posted on May 9, 2011 at 7:47 am in

Finally, things are beginning to get better. More produce is appearing on the shelves, but not to the overwhelming levels we’ll have in a couple of months.

Beets: roots and greens
Broccoli Rabe
Cauliflower (time to make piccalilli!)
Cabbage: red, green, Chinese
Peas (English, sugar, snap, snow)
Arugula / rocket
Cilantro (one of my favourite herbs)
Honeydew melon (yum!)
Flat leaf parsley
(Corn was on sale at my local store – delicious, fresh, and cheap!)

You should start seeing some more exotic stuff appearing in your local stores, but don’t let that fool you: check the price. Just because you *can* buy something, it doesn’t mean it’s in season. If it isn’t on at least Buy One Get One, you may wish to steer clear of it.

Usual warning: agricultural products, subject to vagaries of weather etc….